Things That Matter

Protests Erupt After Police Kill A Mexican-American Teenager In Mexico

As much of the world comes to grip with systemic racism and the role that police play in our communities, people continue to die at the hands of police.

Mexico is no stranger to police brutality and authorities acting with impunity. From the unexplained death of Giovanni Lopez, the case of Mexico’s “Missing 43” to the recent killing of a 16-year-old Mexican-American teen who was visiting his grandparents in the state of Oaxaca, Mexico is reacting to cases of police brutality with protests and action.

A 16-year-old boy from the U.S. was shot dead by police while in Mexico.

A 16-year-old Mexican-American boy, Alexander Martínez Gómez, had spent many years of his short live living on both sides of the U.S.-Mexico border. Now, after a run in with police in the Mexican state of Oaxaca, Alexander is dead and his family and friends are in mourning.

Details of the shooting remain unclear but, according to media reports, Alexander and a group of friends walked to a tiendita to buy sodas when he was shot at from a police car in an attack that also injured a friend.

In speaking to Reforma, a family member said: “They were in a gas station buying a soda. They started to shoot, and because these 15- and 16-year-old boys were scared, they ran. They didn’t give them the option to stop or take off their face masks. They simply started to shoot and they shot him in the head. Alexander died instantly because the police didn’t want to give him first aid.”

Local press reports said Alexander was staying with his grandparents in the town where he was shot. Relatives say he was born in North Carolina to Mexican parents.

The police have responded with a mix of regret and blame.

Credit: Manuel Ugarte / Getty Images

The city government expressed regret for the shooting on its Facebook page and said they had turned over evidence to the state investigators. However, they also tried to pass off the shooting as an accident, saying it was not carried out “in bad faith or to harm the community.”

Officials also tried to show their unwavering support for the police by using the hashtag: #TheHistoryOfThePoliceForcesSpeakForItself.

To many Mexicans, the statement was dejavú as it’s quite common for authorities in the country to blame the victims of violence for the crimes and brutality committed against them – especially by the police.

“They want to incriminate Alexander to justify the vileness of their actions,” tweeted Javier Valdivia, a native of Acatlán de Pérez Figueroa

Friends, family, and the community have come together to demand justice for Alexander.

Credit: Manuel Ugarte / Getty Images

Communities on both sides of the border demonstrated to demand justice for Alexander.

“We came in a caravan from town, with the support of all the people, who told us to keep going,” said Teodoro Martínez, the boy’s father. “We are not going to give them much time to get to the bottom of this.”

The father left North Carolina to attend his son’s funeral, but he has no visa and may not be able to return, he fears. 

In an especially emotional moment, his casket was taken to the local soccer field and placed in the penalty box area. One of his friends passed the ball, which bounced off the casket and into the goal so Martínez could score a final goal as onlookers shouted “justice.”

Alexander’s murder comes just days after police have been implicated in the murder of another man in Guadalajara.

Much like the growing movement for racial justice and inequality in the wake of George Floyd’s killing, Mexico too is seeing massive protests against police brutality.

The murder of Alexander comes just weeks after police forcibly detained Giovanni Lopez for not wearing a mask on the Guadalajara Metro. He was found dead by his family the very next day.

Subsequent protests against police violence were themselves met by further police violence. About 80 people were seized by plainclothes police officers on their way to a demonstration in the city of Guadalajara, and held for hours. The victims said they were beaten, threatened with death and eventually dumped in isolated areas.

Evidence collected by human rights groups suggested that security forces in Mexico are routinely responsible for abuse, torture and extrajudicial killings.

Notice any needed corrections? Please email us at corrections@wearemitu.com

Mexico City Could Soon Change Its Name To Better Embrace Its Indigenous Identity

Things That Matter

Mexico City Could Soon Change Its Name To Better Embrace Its Indigenous Identity

PEDRO PARDO/AFP via Getty Images

Mexico City is the oldest surviving capital city in all of the Americas. It also is one of only two that actually served as capitals of their Indigenous communities – the other being Quito, Ecuador. But much of that incredible history is washed over in history books, tourism advertisements, and the everyday hustle and bustle of a city of 21 million people.

Recently, city residents voted on a non-binding resolution that could see the city’s name changed back to it’s pre-Hispanic origin to help shine a light on its rich Indigenous history.

Mexico City could soon be renamed in honor of its pre-Hispanic identity.

A recent poll shows that 54% of chilangos (as residents of Mexico City are called) are in favor of changing the city’s official name from Ciudad de México to México-Tenochtitlán. In contrast, 42% of respondents said they didn’t support a name change while 4% said they they didn’t know.

Conducted earlier this month as Mexico City gears up to mark the 500th anniversary of the fall of the Aztec empire capital with a series of cultural events, the poll also asked respondents if they identified more as Mexicas, as Aztec people were also known, Spanish or mestizo (mixed indigenous and Spanish blood).

Mestizo was the most popular response, with 55% of respondents saying they identified as such while 37% saw themselves more as Mexicas. Only 4% identified as Spaniards and the same percentage said they didn’t know with whom they identified most.

The poll also touched on the city’s history.

The ancient city of Tenochtitlán.

The same poll also asked people if they thought that the 500th anniversary of the Spanish conquest of Tenochtitlán by Spanish conquistadoresshould be commemorated or forgotten, 80% chose the former option while just 16% opted for the latter.

Three-quarters of respondents said they preferred areas of the the capital where colonial-era architecture predominates, such as the historic center, while 24% said that they favored zones with modern architecture.

There are also numerous examples of pre-Hispanic architecture in Mexico City including the Templo Mayor, Tlatelolco and Cuicuilco archaeological sites.

Tenochtitlán was one of the world’s most advanced cities when the Spanish arrived.

Tenochtitlán, which means “place where prickly pears abound” in Náhuatl, was founded by the Mexica people in 1325 on an island located on Lake Texcoco. The legend goes that they decided to build a city on the island because they saw the omen they were seeking: an eagle devouring a snake while perched on a nopal.

At its peak, it was the largest city in the pre-Columbian Americas. It subsequently became a cabecera of the Viceroyalty of New Spain. Today, the ruins of Tenochtitlán are in the historic center of the Mexican capital. The World Heritage Site of Xochimilco contains what remains of the geography (water, boats, floating gardens) of the Mexica capital.

Notice any needed corrections? Please email us at corrections@wearemitu.com

The Cop Who Killed Daunte Wright Says She Meant To Tase Him Instead Of Firing Her Gun

Things That Matter

The Cop Who Killed Daunte Wright Says She Meant To Tase Him Instead Of Firing Her Gun

Brooklyn Center Police Department

Another Black man is dead, killed by the police.

Daunte Wright, a 20-year-old Black man from Minnesota was murdered on Sunday after a police officer pulled him over for a traffic violation. In an attempt to take in Wright after realizing he had an outstanding warrant for his arrest, it is being said that the officer meant to use her Taser but accidentally fired her gun.

Police in Brooklyn Center, Minnesota are saying that Wright’s attempt to reenter his car prompted the police fire.

Body camera footage of the Sunday incident was released for the first time on Monday during a news conference. Footage of the killing shows Wright outside of his car when authorities were attempting to place him under arrest. At one point, in the footage he can be seen attempting to reenter his vehicle, prompting a struggle with officers.

“I’ll tase ya,” a woman officer told Wright in the video after he attempted to kick her. “Taser, Taser, Taser!” the officer is heard yelling in the video before saying “Oh shit! I just shot him.”

According to Brooklyn Center Police Chief Tim Gannon, the officer meant to reach for her Taser.

Instead, she grabbed her gun.

“This appears to me, from what I viewed and the officer’s reaction and distress immediately after, that this was an accidental discharge that resulted in the tragic death of Mr. Wright,” Gannon claimed.

The Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension has identified the officer in the incident as Kim Potter, a 26-year veteran of the police department. Potter is now on administrative leave.

Speaking about her standing, Gannon said “I think we can watch the video and ascertain whether she will be returning.”

Brooklyn Center Mayor Mike Elliott publicly supported Potter’s termination.

“My position is that we cannot afford to make mistakes that lead to the loss of life of other people in our profession, so I do fully support releasing the officer of her duties,” he explained before revealing that the officers initiated the traffic stop after clocking an expired registration tag on the car’s vehicle. When they ran Wright’s name they learned that he had a warrant out for his arrest. “That’s why they were moving from the car and they were making custodial arrest.”

Gannon went onto explain that the only information he had about the arrest warrant was that it was attached to a “gross misdemeanor warrant.”

Notice any needed corrections? Please email us at corrections@wearemitu.com